Saturday, June 8, 2013

2013 Special Election

I'm late and haven't been doing much with this blog, but for tradition's sake I'll post my vote for my own reference.

[_]Patrick Lasswell NON-PARTISAN
[X]Nels Johnson NON-PARTISANWillamette Week

[X]Martin Gonzalez NON-PARTISANWillamette Week, The Oregonian
[_]Steve Buel NON-PARTISAN
[X]Tom Koehler NON-PARTISANWillamette Week, The Oregonian
[_]David Morrison NON-PARTISAN
"...Morrison filed a 2011 federal lawsuit, alleging Wi-Fi is a health hazard to students. (As WW has reported, PPS has spent more than $170,000 defending itself against Morrison’s claim.) His campaign is based on his Wi-Fi obsession...." - WILLAMETTE WEEK

MEASURE 26-150: Renew five-year levy to prevent child abuse child hunger.
[X]YesWillamette Week, Portland Mercury, The Oregonian
Technically, social services is county responsibility not a city responsibility. However, considering all of the other strange tasks the city takes on (i.e. streetcars, arts education, selling toilets to other cities, etc.), Portlanders don't seem to care about such technicalities. What is more troubling is why do Portlanders have to cover what the county and state should be doing.
MEASURE 26-151: Fluoridation of Portland drinking water supply.
[X]YesWillamette Week, Portland Mercury, The Oregonian
"...Among the hundreds of fluoride studies, there is little evidence that fluoridation is harmful. Here’s how the CDC put it: 'The weight of peer-reviewed scientific evidence does not support an association between water fluoridation and any adverse health effect or systemic disorders.'...
...Fluoridation critics cannot produce any nefarious explanation for why government scientists, public health officials and dentists all support fluoridation....
...The fact is, the health benefits of fluoridation would accrue primarily to those who have bad teeth now—disproportionately low-income and minority children."

MEASURE 26-152: Local option levy: Improve natural areas, water quality for fish.
[X]YesWillamette Week, Portland Mercury, Portland Tribune
[_]No The Oregonian

Friday, March 22, 2013

Oz The Great and Powerful: C

oz the great and powerful

Scott and I saw Oz The Great and Powerful a couple of weekends ago. I was a little reluctant to see it. While I enjoyed the musical Wicked's jaded retelling of the Wizard of Oz story, I was concerned this retelling of Oz would merely be a pointless CGI update of a classic movie like 2005's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

James Franco's performance as the wizard was more convincing than I expected. While it's hard not to recognize familiar actors, his character seemed plausible. Zach Braff's two characters were basically Zach Braff which I didn't feel fit well. And through no fault of Mila Kunis's performance, I couldn't help but affectionately think "Meg" each time she spoke.

There were little things that annoyed me. The movie tried to pay respect to the original classic, but the effort was weak. The opening title and first scenes were in black & white to reference the 1939 movie. However, instead of actually using 1930s film techniques, the title sequence was merely a CGI rendering -- like the motion picture version of a cheap Instagram retro filter.

What concerned me the most though was that this prequel was setting-up to a Wizard of Oz remake. I know corporate Hollywood now merely regurgitates the same few movie franchises repeatedly, but the Judy Garland Wizard of Oz is practically sacred and timeless. A reboot should be a fully creative reboot -- not retro-looking.

Overall, not a terrible movie, but predictable.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Argo: A

Argo (2012)

Scott and I saw Argo just before the Oscars. It was an enjoyable movie with an interesting story and great cast. I prefer historically-based movies -- even though I always wonder how much of it was true. However, I haven't heard any complaint about the movie's accuracy. It even compared the actors with the real life characters in the end titles.

Zero Dark Thirty: C

Zero Dark Thirty-00

Scott and I saw Zero Dark Thirty about a month ago. I remember it was a compromise selection as there wasn't anything playing that we really wanted to see.

I enjoyed director Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker, so I had high hopes for this movie with similar military themes. Like the bomb-defusing scenes of The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty had some intense scenes waiting for a potential explosion. However, the suspense for me waned as we all knew the main character probably wouldn't be killed.

The much discussed interrogation scenes were disturbing and were definitely torture. Is it just me though, but I'm a bit weary of re-opening the torture debate of the last decade. I suspect many of us would prefer to put the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfield days behind us and hope that doesn't happen any more -- or at least we won't hear about it.

The movie was well-paced, which I appreciate. The movie's biggest drawback was it basically ended at the completion of the Bin Laden killing mission, which was not very suspenseful considering the details of the raid have been widely reported. Like The Hurt Locker which focused on a soldier's struggle to transition to civilian life, I would have much rather have seen what happened to the characters after the Bin Laden mission ended.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Les Misérables: C (B for musical)

les miserables movie poster.jpg

Scott, ma, and I saw Les Misérables several weeks ago, but I'm just now posting my thoughts before tonight's Oscars. Having never seen the stage version, I didn't know what to expect other than a lot of singing. There was almost no dialogue. The constant singing seemed like a endless medley, but I don't watch many musicals.

One of the promotional clips mentioned that the singing was filmed live with an elaborate system of hidden earpieces and carefully mic'd stages. While live singing would seem to be better than voice over, I can't say it made much difference to me. Other than Anne Hathaway's Oscar-baiting performance [of that Susan Boyle song :)] filmed in a confined space, the sound quality was still fainter and less clear than voice over. And, regardless of the terrific technical efforts, singing dialogue inherently undermines authenticity of any scene.

Weeks later, I recall that Hugh Jackman's performance was good, but I can't recall any songs he sang. Russell Crowe's singing has been widely criticized; however, I thought his less than stellar singing brought made his ill-thinking character more realistic. After all, wouldn't all of us sign imperfectly if thrown into a musical? That said though, I'm not sure what Russell Crowe was thinking.

Overall, an okay musical, but a long dreary story with only a few likable characters. I probably would have appreciated seeing the stage version more.